The vote was 394 for, 160 against. The ratification comes nearly three months after a multi-union strike that briefly tore Broadway apart. The strike was resolved by a City Hall-brokered deal between players and producers. The musicians strike began Friday March 7 and was supported by the actors and stagehands unions. It was settled early in the morning of Tuesday, March 11. An agreement was reached after Mayor Michael Bloomberg reached out to both sides and instigated round-the-clock negotiations beginning 9 PM Monday March 10 at Gracie Mansion.
Broadway musicals, most of which had been dark for four days running, commenced performances again on March 11.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg called officials from Local 802 and the League to Gracie Mansion at 9 PM Monday night and effectively shut them in a room with mediator Frank J. Macchiarola until an agreement was reached. Middle ground was located in less than 12 hours. Both sides credited Bloomberg with swiftly solving a conflict which could have dragged on for weeks and severely hurt Broadway.
The main point of the dispute between Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians and the League of American Theatres and Producers concerned the question of minimums in Broadway orchestras. The old pact placed the number at 24 to 26 at the twelve largest Broadway musical houses and 3 to 20 at other theatres. The musicians union wanted to set the minimum of players at no less than 24, while producers suggested first 7, then 14, then 15 musicians. At a press conference March 11, it was announced that minimums at the large Broadway theatres will now have set minimums of 18 or 19 players.
The lowered number is a far cry from a complete elimination of the minimums clause, a conclusion the producers had initially sought. Still, though they succeeded in preserving minimums, Local 802 will likely see far fewer of its members employed in Broadway pits in the years to come. As previously reported by Playbill On-Line, minimums at the affected Broadway theatres are as follows in the new contract:
Broadway, St. James, Marquis, New Amsterdam, Ford Center: 19
Gershwin, Majestic, Palace, Lunt-Fontanne, Imperial, Minskoff, Shubert, Winter Garden: 18
Neil Simon, Martin Beck, Richard Rodgers: 14
Virginia, Broadhurst: 12
Barrymore, Music Box, Plymouth: 9
Brooks Atkinson, O'Neill, Royale: 8
Longacre, Nederlander: 4
Ambassador, Belasco, Booth, Circle in the Square, Cort, Golden, Walter Kerr, Lyceum: 3
Though the contract is for four years, the minimums clause may not be addressed again for 10 years. The new minimums do not affect currently running musicals.
There were also changes made to the "Special Situations" clause, which allows producers of shows to petition for a different number of musicians. Previously, the committee that decided these matters was comprised of six people, all music professionals: orchestrators, music directors and the like. The new committee will now be made up of two union representatives, two producer representatives and either one or three neutral persons to be chosen at a later date.